Mar 3, 2007 8:31pm
Re: what SHOULD Wharf Rat sound like?
Below is some of what is at the above link:
2. Wharf rat,...(b)one who is frequently found on or near wharves, esp. a vagrant or petty criminal who haunts wharves...1836Franklin Repository (Chambersburg, PA) 4 Oct 1/3 "I've an idea, my man, that you are one of the wharf rats; and, if so, the less lip you give me the better."
Asked me for a dime, a dime for a cup of coffee
This note from a reader:
From: scott matter [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Saturday, January 11, 2003 8:27 PM
Subject: Wharf Rat note
I just watched On the Waterfront (Marlon Brando, dir. by Elia Kazan) and had a thought. The line from the first verse of Wharf Rat (asked me for a dime, a dime for a cup of coffee) is very similar to lines from a particular scene in the movie.
It's the scene where Terry Malloy is walking from the church with Edie (after the union has come to break up a meeting of potential 'rats.' An old bum in the park stops the couple and asks them "can you spare a dime? Just a dime for a cup of coffee?"
It seems like Hunter might have had this movie in mind (or part of it anyways) when writing Wharf Rat. At least the similarity in this one line is interesting.
This note from a reader:
Date: Tue, 30 Sep 1997 19:56:50 -0700
From: Joyce Kohnke
Subject: wharf rat
What's up David. I wanted to point out the line:
I love my Pearly Baker best
More than my wine
Back in the era of prohibition, the Rev. Purley Baker was the head of the Anti-Saloon League of America. This group lead the fight for prohibition in America. Who knows? Keep up the good work!
Well! This is an amazing note. Purley Baker did indeed head up the Anti-Saloon league from 1903 to the early 1920's. In the song, of course, Pearly Baker, with the different spelling, becomes a woman. But the reference has interesting implications for the song's meaning-which, of course, I leave up to you.
There is an interesting discussion on the Deadlit conference at the WELL (Topic #251) which points up a possible link to the line in the song "Days Between":
"Summer flies and August dies
The world grows dark and mean."
The speculation in this discussion includes the possibility that August West of "Wharf Rat" is a Garcia personality--since Garcia's birthdate was in August.
And this note from a reader:
Subject: Wharf Rat
Date: Mon, 25 Nov 1996 17:35:35 -0800
From: Joe Berentes
I was browsing some of the entries on your page and came across the discussion regarding the name August West.
It seems to me this name is symbolic of the derilict's life. August marks the end of summer, a time of happiness and life. Also, of course, the sun sets in the west, marking the end of a day. August West is a man who is well past the summer of his life and whose days are drawing to a close.
Just a thought. Thanks for the great reading.